Much has been covered on the road to self-actualization and the experts, referencing humanist Abraham Maslow, known for popularising the concept under the Hierarchy of Needs, stand by the principles they’ve applied to reach their full potential.

Nevertheless, a few times have we taken a moment to critically analyse the core obstacles that stand in the way of this individualistic journey. 

Hence, let’s take a look at the distractions that hinder one from becoming a being capable of transcending the environment they are placed in and thus preventing them from becoming their best self.

  1. Sensuality  

Sensuality is the pursuit of physical pleasure. It equates to getting distracted by any form of pleasure till it diverts and hinders you from completing an important task.

Sensuality tends to foster once we ignore the patterns and fail to catch the thoughts that hinder the completion of tasks or adherence to commitments.

Such thoughts/patterns often carry an element of procrastination, which is postponing an important task for a menial one that offers instant gratification or emotional cravings which drive one to make important decisions based on how they feel at a moment. 

And thus a way to curb sensuality is by;

  • Improving your focus. If at all you cannot control yourself from indulging, cultivate your focus by shutting down all the distractions around you. Such could be your phone, social platforms, people or even the environment. To be most productive, learn to cocoon yourself in a place devoid of distractions until you get the job done.
  • Establishing a routine to ground you to your commitments lest pleasure takes over at the expense of important tasks. At opportune moments, enforce a laser focus approach towards the completion of a goal and soon this practice will become a habit.
Steve Jobs on having a clear focus.

2. Attitude 

Attitude is characterized as the internal resolve one displays, despite the conditions and external factors around. When you are low in attitude, your mind lacks a settled way of thinking and this affects the quality of your perception. 

In play, attitude guides the decisions you make once you face an unexpected obstacle and hence the miles you make towards self-actualization. It also determines how open or closed off you are towards the experiences and opportunities life has to offer.

Since a person’s attitude is influenced by multiple factors, including their beliefs, emotions, personal experiences, quality of knowledge, social factors and mostly the media among others, it becomes imperative to assess how we perceive the world whether consciously or subconsciously.

Maya Angelou on attitude

3. Heaviness

Ultimately, it is the individual who possesses the authenticity, openness and subtlety to perceive the nuances of their attitude at opportune moments – and the discipline needed to make necessary corrections at critical times, that becomes a truly unlimited person. 

This is a state of sleepiness and lethargy that leaves you devoid of energy or enthusiasm to partake in any activity. It is a form of oppression of both the body and mind that costs individuals any form of physical or mental effort.  

In the book 5 AM Club, Robin Sharma highlights the benefits of starting your morning with intense exercise, because it amps you up with the needed alchemy for self-mastery. 

Sweating from exercise increases dopamine levels while reducing cortisol. Cortisol is the fear and stress emotion that makes you grumpy and leads you to question your life, whenever that alarm goes off. 

Besides health benefits and the fact that you become lighter and swifter to perform tasks, the vital link between physical training and cognitive ability is what makes exercising indeed necessary. This is so you can prevent the heaviness of the body and the dullness of the mind.


Restlessness denotes a lack of rest where/when it is required.

A person is said to be restless if they cannot calm the mind or if they are overwhelmed by the need to move constantly. Restlessness triggers you to hop on to too many activities at once, making you unable to linger in the present or to pursue one task to completion. And because your brain is cluttered you often lack the courage to make the right decisions at opportune times.

In the Last Samurai, a film featuring Tom Cruise that is set in the Asian world, emphasis is placed on the importance of having a clear and single mind before undertaking any venture.  

But in a world that is characterized by instant living and digital overload how can one maintain a clear mind needed to function effectively? Additionally, how can one take advantage of the tools and possibilities availed by our digital world, without suffering the mental fatigue, anxiety and choice overload that often leads us to a state of inefficiency? 

  • Pause to meditate on your progress. Assess what’s working and what’s not. Where stuck, seek counsel from those who’ve made their paths.
  • Rest the mind either by sleeping or by lying in a state of inactivity. This will help you recharge and get your energies back to a level of service and functionality. Yoga is such an effective and creative way to restore your energy, vitality and cultivate your mind management. 
  • Learn to be mindful of the present and to remain fully engaged at that moment. Indeed, there is a time for everything.
  • Have priorities and push through till you have completed them. For instance, if it’s a task you are supposed to complete, set the deadline with specific cuts of time required to finish it. At that moment, do not indulge in senseless conversations, entertainment or works that will take you away from the present.

Listen to this lecture on the science of focus.

5. Indecisiveness

Indecisiveness roots from a state of restlessness. When one is uncentered and not able to distinguish between what’s important and what’s urgent, a state of indecisiveness occurs. This psychological impairment as often caused by overstimulation and information overload leaves one inefficient and too often in a state of stupor. 

In practical contexts, indecisiveness feels like wading through a life that is chosen for you based on the circumstances and events arising within your context. This is opposed to conscious living based on the understanding of your goals, and how they relate to the different times and seasons in your life. 

Even though we can’t fully plan our actions and direct our lives to live with the fear of making a decision is also a decision. And sometimes the decision to be made comes down to putting yourself first. The virtue of selfishness is that it keeps you principled to pursue a life that is meaningful to you. Not always is the regard for your well-being going to be at the detriment of others’. And that is the type of selfishness referenced here and illustrated by Ayn Rand.

Paul Ardens says, it is better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t, don’t you agree?

What next?


At the core of it, humans are not made up of one building block. You are not your name, your emotions, your physical state, your background, your profession nor are you what people say you are. Humans are spiritual beings capable of morphing into different shapes and sizes based on different times and seasons. Therefore, after recognising your distraction (s) to self-actualisation, accept, investigate them, then non-identify from them. 

Non-identifying is the practice of dissociating from your body, mind, emotions, your circumstances or what history tell you. It’s similar to applying an aerial view over who you are. Maya Angelou puts it like this, “Stand up straight and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.”

Recognize that as you think in your heart so are you. Hence, if you are not where you would want to be, cultivate qualities that build your value. Beat yourself up in a manner that you die to the weak self and rise a transformed being.  Paul Arden wrote a book titled, It is never how good you are but how good you want to be. I dare not go past that.

Noteworthy, the closer you get to your genius the more you will face the sabotage of your fears. Since this journey involves a road less travelled, do not despair when it gets quiet, cold or foggy.

At such times, remind yourself that you are covering miles towards becoming your best self – even though the results might not be visible. There will reach a time when you will look back and thank yourself for holding on and pushing through, particularly in that season of inactivity when everything seemed to be at a standstill or coming undone. Most importantly, remember that self-actualization is a process, not a destination.

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